lessons in leadership


Every successful woman needs a role model, for she cannot be what she cannot see. Shahnaz Pakravan shares highlights from her life’s journey.

Former news broadcaster and author, Shahnaz Pakravan is the first woman to lead one of the Capital Clubs under the umbrella of Signature Clubs International, a member of ENSHAA group of companies. Having travelled around the world for work and study, with stints in Pakistan, Scotland, New York and Dubai, she has now put roots in Bahrain. Shahnaz speaks about the importance of role models for women’s success.

Woman this Month (WTM): What has been your most challenging assignment as a TV presenter?
Shahnaz Pakravan (SP): Presenting live news was always a challenge. I remember an August morning in 1991 when I was live on the 6am show on channel 4, and the news came in that Mikhail Gorbachev had been deposed in a coup. That completely scuttled the next three hours of the planned broadcast and we had to start afresh and ad lib furiously!
That’s the challenge of breaking news, but it teaches you to think on your feet and hones your research abilities.

WTM: The leap from media and journalism to hospitality must have been a sea change. How did you adjust to the new role?
SP: I am a multi-faceted person and love challenges. Ultimately, both industries are about people. My role here at the Bahrain Club is about building relationships, strategic planning and creating events, conferences and forums. It’s an extension of my previous roles.

WTM: Do women need role models to be successful? Who has been yours?
SP: It may seem like a cliché, but women need to mentor other women. It applies even more to this part of the world, where women look up to other women for positive reinforcement, given the societal challenges. My role model has to be my mother, who in 1920s’ Iran fought for her right to education and got it. She went on to be a diplomat and was much more successful than any of her brothers. She taught me that empowerment can only come through education and knowledge; this fact has been proven to me time and again in my lifetime.

WTM: Most successful career women feel guilty about time spent away from their family and children. What’s your view?
SP: Guilt is something women are born with. I juggled my career with two young daughters, but it had to be done as I was the breadwinner in the relationship. My children didn’t suffer. In fact, they look at me as a role model.

WTM: How has your journey changed you?
SP: There is a couplet by Rumi that goes: “There is a force within that gives you life; seek it.” I’ve been through some of the most dramatic highs and lows in my life, but I’ve always been a fighter. In the process, I discovered myself. I tell my daughters that they too should take responsibility for their lives and make their own decisions.